Cover photo for Philip "Phil" Charles Withrow's Obituary
Philip "Phil" Charles Withrow Profile Photo
1933 Philip 2024

Philip "Phil" Charles Withrow

December 9, 1933 — May 3, 2024

Philip Charles Withrow, born in Seminole, Oklahoma on December 9, 1933 to Richard and Leta Withrow, passed away on May 3, 2024 in Yukon, Oklahoma, surrounded by family.

Phil spent his first 14 years growing up in oilfield camps surrounding Seminole, including Bowlegs, the Amarada Switch, Cromwell, Stonewall, Plover Hill, the T. N. Barnsdall Camp, and the Rascoe and Pryor Leases. At the Amarada Switch Phil and his brothers Jon and Gerry were well-known rascals, playing war and getting into the trouble that boys get into, playing soldiers during WWII. Dick Withrow died suddenly in 1948 when Phil was a sophomore in high school and the family moved to Seminole. Phil described himself as not very interested in excelling in high school, but he made it through, graduating from Seminole High School in 1951.

After graduation, Phil headed to Salinas, California to spend the summer living among the family’s beloved “California Cousins.” One of the cousins got him a job at a Standard Oil gas station in Gilroy on Highway 101 where he made several lifelong friends. Money was tight, so Phil took a bus back to Oklahoma and, as he put it, “layed around on Mom’s couch for a few months.” By Christmas he decided he wasn’t doing it right and enrolled at Seminole Junior College (now Seminole State College) where he finally discovered his love for learning, especially in math and science. “Trigonometry was fun!” he said later. After three semesters he transferred to the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma where he received both his Bachelor (‘56) and Master (‘57) of Science degrees in Petroleum Geology.

Phil’s scholastic accomplishments include various scholarships; membership in the honorary geological society Sigma Gamma Epsilon where he also served as president; election to Sigma Xi, the national honor society for collegiate scientific research and an appointment as a graduate assistant to the faculty of the School of Geology while pursuing his master’s degree. He was also a proud member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and a lifelong fan of the University of Oklahoma football team. His friends will know that he loved OU football, hated “prevent defense,” and thought they should be running the ball with misdirection and a lead blocker on every play. To pay for his education, Phil worked as an oilfield roughneck in Oklahoma and performed surface geology for El Paso Natural Gas in Farmington, New Mexico and the Raton Basin during the summers and breaks. He met the love of his life, Patsy “Patty” Jean Edge, at OU in March 1955 and told his best friend that night that she was the girl who was going to be his wife. Patty and Phil were married in September 1956 and had 51 happy years together before Patty’s passing in 2007.

Soon after completing his degrees, Phil went to work for Carter Oil Co. in Vernal, Utah, and a couple of years later Durango, Colorado. After returning to Norman, he then temporarily left the oil and gas industry during the time of proration, which limited hiring and other opportunities, and was a computer programmer for two years at Tinker Air Force Base. On his lunch breaks at Tinker, he went to the Cleveland County Court House where the County Clerk taught him everything he needed to know about land work. Phil very happily returned to oil and gas work when he was hired by Viersen & Cochran Drilling Company as a geologist on Doyle Burke’s team, one of the best jobs he ever had working for someone else. He went on to become a member of the Oklahoma City Geological Society and edited their Shale Shaker magazine on his Underwood typewriter in the basement of the family home during the 1960s.

In 1966, Phil went out on his own and then formed Withrow Oil Company, Inc. in 1968, a company he ran for more than 50 years. Additionally, he and Jimmy Walker partnered at Walker & Withrow for about 10 years during the 1970s and 1980s. He found great success in the Sooner Trend with his prospects from Major, Garfield, Kingfisher and Canadian Counties. He spent a good deal of time in the 1980s operating in Kay County and ended his career operating a field in Creek County. His entire life, Phil loved the oilfield, all of the work, and every aspect of oil and gas exploration, operation and production. He also thoroughly enjoyed working in Oklahoma City with his numerous friends, having coffee with them regularly and solving the problems of the world.

During the early years of his career his children, Steve, Cindy and Jenny, were born. Phil and Patty gave all of their energy to their young family, with special love and attention to their precious daughter Cindy who was born with physical challenges. For the rest of his life, even during his eventual advanced Alzheimer’s, Phil showed extra fatherly compassion and concern for Cindy. The family enjoyed an active life with many friends in Norman and then, beginning in 1974, his hometown of Seminole. Later, after they had moved to Oklahoma City, Patty and Phil found great joy when, after many difficulties, they adopted Steve’s son James, raising him as their own from an early age. Phil and James had an incredible relationship. James eventually became Phil’s partner in business and later a constant and steady caregiver through his declining years.

Phil lost his dear Patty in 2007 from complications of Type 1 diabetes. He was a strong man who could always help others navigate a crisis or difficult times, a strength best shown in how he cared for his beloved wife. His compassion also touched many others, with his family learning only in recent years how, as a quiet and caring friend, he helped young people close to the family through college.

To his family, Phil was a role model, a comedian, a travel agent and adventurer, the most loyal enthusiast and spectator of any of his children’s and grandchildren’s activities, a breakfast expert, a stellar father figure when a father was needed, a perfect imperfect father, a pillar of stability, a not-quite-patient driving instructor, an example of how to make mistakes and apologize with grace, a talented needlepointer and woodworker, a jolly curmudgeon, a lover of art and music–able to carry a tune to the end, a coach, an avid reader of history, a story teller, a bulldozer thief/borrower at Amarada Switch (we’re just leaving that right there), an oilman, an information whiz, a Mr. Fix It, a steady presence during divorces, and a Sooner.

Phil is survived by his daughter Cindy Withrow; his daughter Jenny Shepard, her husband Brian, and their children Phillip and Cecei; his son James Withrow, his wife Misty, and their daughters Chloe and Charlotte; his sister Janie Withrow Davis and his nephew, Chris Davis, his wife Christy, and their sons Phoenix and Raven; his niece Ann Riley, her husband Dave, and their children Jonathan, Jillian, and Jessica; his nephew Rick Withrow and his daughters Nicole, Lexi and Madi; and many other cherished Withrow and Edge family members, including Steve’s sons Christian, Mac and Bleu. Phil was preceded in death by Patty, his mother and father, and his brothers Gerry and Jon Withrow. Also preceding him in death were his good friends, Fred Adwan, Dick Darnell, Bob Lewis and Joe McClendon.

Phil’s family is grateful to the outstanding staff at Spanish Cove Retirement Village, who cared for him with humor, patience and boundless love since 2019. Also deeply appreciated are the loving caregivers from Legacy Hospice, who brought him much friendship and joy in his final months. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to:

Spanish Cove Retirement Village

11 Palm Avenue

Yukon, OK 73099

Spanish Cove is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, EIN: 73-1536662.

Memorial Service will take place at 2 p.m., Monday, May 13, 2024 at:

Swearingen Funeral Home

1001 Milt Phillips Avenue

Seminole, OK 74868

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Philip "Phil" Charles Withrow, please visit our flower store.

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Monday, May 13, 2024

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